Chapter 35: Divine Radiance
Fan fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Articuno’s energy had been depleted significantly after that attack, but he still soared above us without any loss to his constitution. Gracia’s eyes were wide with tears of her own. She and Munna were safe, but the stony barrier around her had taken a huge hit. Rhyperior’s body was covered with a thick film of ice from the back. It may not have looked like her torso or head was affected, but there was no doubt.
Rhyperior was no longer able to move.
When the sheer cold and trick room effects subsided, Amy put me down and ran toward her pokémon. She frantically searched for any item on her person that could be used to revive her.
“Please, Rhyperior!” she shouted desperately. “Please stay with me!”
Munna backed away from Amy slowly and sorrowfully, but Gracia remained. Amy continued to flail around, looking for something without any success. But then Gracia stopped her, held her in her arms, and embraced her.
I couldn’t hear what was being exchanged, but Ina came by and grabbed my shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Amy’s Rhyperior defended Gracia valiantly. But there’s nothing more we can do for her.”
“You don’t have to apologize,” I said sniffling. “We’re in a war, after all.”
I wanted to say more, but then I saw Ina’s own face. Her countenance, usually level-headed and serious, had also been in tears from this sight.
“Ina, why are you–”
“Are you surprised, Shuichi?” she said as she turned to me. “Even the strongest warriors of Ransei have feelings too. It is the one thing that keeps us human.”
I shook my head slowly.
“There is a time for thinking and a time for feeling,” she continued. “But even when we know when it’s best to steel ourselves, we all fail to stay that way, one way or another. Some of us are better at remaining steadfast than others. I saw that in you, the day we had first met in Aurora. That’s why I wanted you to be our leader.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said. “I’ve been more of a crybaby now than I ever have been, coming to this place. It hurts for someone like me to witness all of this. Is there any way to ease all this pain in the midst of war?”
Ina turned my head toward her and looked me directly in the eyes.
“You’re doing it right now,” she said. “Your tears are proof enough that you can be a strong leader. It hurts now, but the pain slowly goes away, restoring our constitution and building our resolve. A person who witnesses all these things without feeling only stores the grief and compacts it, until one day it’s released in the deadliest of manners. And when we cry, it only makes us stronger.”
“But how?” I asked. “I don’t feel any stronger than I was before I got here.”
Ina wrapped her arm around my shoulder and drew much closer to me.
“You may not have noticed it, but you have. Amy has, too. And so has Gracia.”
As we gazed upon Amy and Gracia, the two of them released each other from their embrace. Ina and I walked toward them, as did Roku, Gothorita, and Empoleon. While Articuno continued to rest and fly aimlessly through the sky above us, we exchanged more warm embraces to ease our pain.
And once we all shared our pain, Gracia nodded and looked at her pokémon.
“It’s time, Gothorita,” she said.
Gothorita, who had also been in tears, nodded in response.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
With one last stand, Gracia took to the empty snowy field with Gothorita to face Articuno. Any remaining warriors and pokémon remained at a distance, tending to each other’s wounds.
“Are you ready, my friend?” Gracia said to her pokémon.
Gothorita nodded again. As they prepared themselves, Gracia returned Black Snow to her sash and held Divine Snow out toward the sky. While Articuno continued to ignore us and recovered his energy, Gracia began her incantation.
“Winds, be my voice! Snowfall, be my shield! Light, be my blade! May the spirits bestowed in thee, guide my hand and bring peace once more!”
As her words echoed before us, Gothorita had a familiar glow to her that many pokémon trainers have witnessed before. But strangely enough, that same glow wasn’t just coming from her. Gracia, too, had this same, mysterious power flowing through her.
As we continued to watch, Gothorita’s and Gracia’s bodies bathed in a bright light that was too blinding for us to see what was going on clearly. Amy and I knew this sight well, as even we have seen it with pokémon of our own. But why was Gracia experiencing it too?
“I’m so happy for you, Gracia,” said Ina sincerely. “I knew you could do it.”
“I don’t get it,” I said out loud. “What exactly did she do?”
“When a warrior and pokémon share a special link, they fight alongside each other to grow stronger,” she said. “And just as a pokémon evolves, some special warriors, too, can go through a transformation. It is a blessing our people have been bestowed, thanks to the Creator.”
“Transforming?” repeated Amy. “You mean that Gracia’s evolving?”
“Indeed. And when she does, not only does her armor and her weapon change shape, but so does her very character that is unseen by human eyes. Hanzo and I have gone through this transformation, as did Okuni. It was only a matter of time Gracia could experience it as well.”
“So is Gracia a warrior like you guys after all?” I asked.
“She always has been a warrior, if but a different kind. And she is the most powerful among us.”
As the blinding light dissipated, two new forms came into view.
On the right was a taller, larger, evolved form of Gothorita, known in our studies as Gothitelle.
And on the left was that same petite young lady we all knew, but still seemed different somehow. Her lighter clothes looked a lot thicker, with frills at the edges of her dress and sash. She looked more like one of those magical girls I have seen on television programs than a typical pokémon warrior; but then again, nothing was ever typical about her. And in her hands was a wand: a wand with a more solid shape, but still had the strange curvature. But it was no longer made of wood, nor did it have a small sky blue jewel at the tip. This wand was purely crystal in form, stained in the sky blue color the jewel once had. And it had a breathtaking iridescence that caught the sun rays, bathing everything around it in a warm blue light.
This is Divine Radiance.
Having caught Articuno’s attention, Gothitelle and Gracia engaged the legendary bird in battle. From here on, our snowy scene was no longer a warrior battle for Viperia, but a trainer battle for Articuno. I wonder what kinds of attacks Gracia will use? She’s a warrior, after all.
“Shuichi, I know these past few months have been terrible and full of grief for you,” said Ina. “But if there’s anything you need to see, watch Gracia when she fights.”
I gave my retainer a puzzled look.
“So what’s going to happen?” I asked. “Is Gracia some kind of wizard who can conjure some kind of magic from that wand of hers?”
Ina shook her head.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but Gracia doesn’t fight like that. Not with that kind of weapon. But when you see her in battle, you will understand why I say she is the most powerful warrior of us all.”
“Why?” I asked inquisitively. “Is she quick when it comes to fighting?”
Ina looked toward me and smiled lightly.
“When Gracia is truly serious about it, she won’t have to fight at all.”
Gothitelle leaped forward and put her hands on the sides of her head, concentrating on a special psychic attack. Gracia had followed closely behind her, Divine Radiance in hand.
“Use future sight now!” she commanded.
As Gothitelle executed her attack, Gracia flicked Divine Radiance and charged her pokémon with a new warrior skill.
Future sight doesn’t take effect right away, so seeing what was happening to Articuno was unclear as of this moment. Articuno continued to dive closer to her, but Gracia refused to turn away. In the heavy snow, she inched closer to the target at hand. Articuno dove directly into Gracia’s path. The legendary bird had plenty of momentum to attack her head-on, possibly injuring her severely, or worse.
And yet, that wasn’t what came to pass. At the very moment Articuno made contact with her, a glimmer in space had appeared, as if the dimensions of the battlefield itself were changing. Or more accurately, I only thought that they did.
With the effects of future sight, time itself had been altered. And when Gracia unleashed her power through Divine Radiance, it only made sense that what had happened was nothing short of bewildering.
The battlefield was no longer in the snowy sunlight, but in a dark space. It wasn’t clear where the ground below us had began or ended, nor did we know where the sky above had been. Or perhaps there was no ground or sky at all in this space. All I could see was Gracia, Gothitelle, and Articuno before me; and I stood beside them, as if I had been transported to where they were standing.
As Articuno swept in to attack Gracia, the eyes of the ice bird had not been fierce or aggressive, as I had imagined when the battle took place. On the contrary, as Articuno stared into the glimmering reflection of Gracia’s crystal wand, his eyes were warm and friendly, as if making peace with the girl in front of him.
Gracia herself had changed. She remained in the clothes that she had on when she transformed, but her size and face looked like she was much younger. Not that her petite size was any different, but the Gracia I saw looked more like an innocent child than a cheeky young adult. And she smiled gently at the bird in front of her, with Gothitelle by her side, who was just as happy.
Gracia laughed. She was happy to see the large bird before her. As Articuno lowered his neck, Gracia stroked his majestic head.
“I’m so happy you came back,” she said.
Articuno closed his eyes calmly as she petted him. He looked like he was at peace rather than in the battle we just had.
As this enigmatic illusion continued before my eyes, a much older gentleman had appeared before Gracia and Articuno. He had an average build and wore armor with colors of the Nixtorm guard. His face was toughened, but his skin was smooth. On his back, he carried the crystal trident that Lord Fujitaka had wielded, but it had been sheathed, so as not to engage in combat. I presume this was the image of Mitsuhide Akechi, Gracia’s father.
As he approached us, Mitsuhide picked up his daughter from her shoulders, and lifted her high into the air. Articuno raised his head and matched Gracia’s new height. Gracia continued to caress Articuno’s beak dearly, laughing the whole time.
Everyone in this dream state was happy. Not a dreary moment could be found in this seemingly black paradise. Articuno, Gracia, Mitsuhide, Gothitelle, even I couldn’t help but smile.
“When Gracia is truly serious about it, she doesn’t have to fight,” echoed Ina, as she appeared before me in her present self. “Thanks to Gothitelle’s power and Divine Radiance’s ability, we can see what goes on in Gracia’s and Articuno’s head.”
“What goes on in their heads?” I repeated. “That doesn’t make sense. Are we dreaming too?”
Ina smiled calmly.
“You might say that,” she said. “But what we’re experiencing now are the very desires Gracia and Articuno have together. They do have shared memories, you know. You might call this an insight to how Gracia links with her pokémon.”
“This is what a link looks like?”
“It’s the same way you became attached to Skorupi.”
As she said that, Skorupi leaped onto my shoulder and happily danced on it. This would normally annoy me because she is surprisingly heavy, but now she felt as light as a feather.
“We can’t describe exactly what it feels like to link with a pokémon,” she continued. “You foreigners probably have even less of an understanding of that, confining your friends into those ball-like tools you carry. But even so, it is a practice that even our war-driven culture has continued for centuries. We call it ‘wordless communication.’”
As I continued to watch Gracia and her family of pokémon and her father, even I couldn’t find words to describe the joy I had felt. I breathed deeply, taking in the tranquility of this bewildering state in my mind. I closed my eyes once more.
When I opened them, I had returned to the snowy, sunlit terrain. Gracia continued to stand radiantly beside Gothitelle. The reflection from her wand was still too blinding to make out anything else that was going on.
I could feel Skorupi on my left shoulder, heavy as she was all over; and in my right hand, I could feel the warmth of Amy’s hand, gripping tightly. As I looked at her, I could read a mixture of feelings on her countenance. She, too, must have felt calm, at peace, and happy as I was in Gracia’s spell. And yet, her face also showed worry, grief, and sorrow. But even still, I could tell from her hand, she had hope too.
I smiled and laughed, finally realizing something that had been on my mind lately.
“So there really is beauty in the midst of war,” I said aloud. “Isn’t that right, Ina?”
Ina had not been in my conversation with Okuni about such matters, but she nodded all the same.
“That’s right,” she replied. “After all, this is the land of Ransei.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As the blinding light had lifted, our snowy battlefield became clear once more. And just like in the vision, Gracia stood closely to Articuno, but in her present adult form. Articuno also stood in the snow, not with aggression or malice, but resting in a peaceful demeanor.
Amy and I ran toward Gracia, holding hands as we went. When we met up with them, Articuno lowered his head for Gracia to pet him in a familiar way. A grown Gracia returned Articuno’s feelings; and while these two were different physically than they were in the vision, their emotions were all the same: true happiness.
“It’s okay, old friend,” said Gracia gently. “No one’s going to hurt you anymore.”
As other warriors and pokémon slowly approached us, we no longer felt anger in the chilly air around us. Warriors from the Resistance, Nixtorm’s guard, and Viperia’s militia were shaking hands and helping each other out, rather than at each other’s throats. Their pokémon, too, were much friendlier toward each other.
I didn’t understand it at first; I didn’t understand how people at war could just as easily exchange friendliness as they would hostility. Perhaps it was because they all had to help each other out in the immediacy when Articuno attacked them all. But perhaps there was something more fundamental about the warriors of Ransei that I had yet realized.
These warriors may have been enemies in the past, but they too, can set aside those grudges to build a better future. It was the same lesson Gracia and Tadaoki learned from their wands. I guess given the many years of civil war in Ransei, such friendships among warriors was common. One day they could be allies; and in the next day, they could be enemies. I never noticed this exchange before because I was so focused on battles and defenses the whole time I’ve been here.
There is still much I had to learn about Ransei, its culture, and the people and pokémon who reside here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
But all was not well, as I had hoped. Viperia’s kingdom was now in our control, but it still costed us the lives of so many warriors and pokémon on both sides.
As the others continued to celebrate our victory and Gracia’s taming of Articuno, Amy had let go of my hand and walked away from them. Skorupi and I followed her.
In a lonely part of the battlefield that took place here, Amy returned to the stone body of Rhyperior. Without given any time to say “goodbye,” Amy held on to the frozen pokémon’s claw, with tears of grief rolling down her face. Luxray and Sneasel also stood by her in sorrow, as she wiped her face with her other sleeve.
Roku, Dragonair, Politoed, and Skorupi also approached them slowly, as did I. Without any more words, I held on to Amy’s fragile waist as firmly as I could, in the warmest embrace I could give her. Amy, in turn, held tightly onto my shoulders.
And as a cool breeze passed over that wintry spring afternoon, we wept in silence.